(H)and (C)ounted (P)aper (B)allots

For hand counts of
secret ballot elections, EIP endorses the Glass Box Voting process. This process is recommend for the hand counting of paper ballots, although any EIP-compliant hand count process will work. Hand counting with teller committees has been around for quite a while, and so this concept is nothing new. For other types of elections (anonymous or Roll Call), hand counts are unnecessary and probably not the best option (primarily because they cannot be accomplished in a fully remote manner, but also for cost, training and other reasons). But they can still be used by those who prefer them, of course.

As an important augmentation to any hand count process, we recommend attaching a VTN (Vote Tracking Number) to each ballot so that the hand count can be

That process is documented here:

  • Attach or otherwise encode a VTN (token) to each ballot*
  • Ensure every voter retains a copy of their completed ballot
  • Follow your preferred Hand Count process providing it specifies a manner in which counting is verified and repeated by at least one observer separate from the current counter
  • After the ballots are physically counted, stamp each ballot with evidence of the hand count by the teller committee
  • At the end of the hand count, make every ballot available, sorted by VTN so people can physically find their ballot if they choose to

  • eip-handcount-sb-happy-path

    Activity Diagram for an EIP-enhanced Hand Count (EIP-HCPB)

    Ideally, the token (VTN) would be pre-printed on the paper ballot and with it an additional detachable portion the voter could take with them. Alternatively, they could always just take a picture of their ballot from their phone.

    Now you can find your ballot and that’s great. But in the hand count scenario, the VTN does nothing to ensure that your particular ballot was counted correctly unless two additional steps are taken:
    1. Ensure every voter retains a copy of their completed ballot, and
    2. Audit the hand count

    If you want to absolutely
    guarantee that your vote was counted - and that it was counted quickly & accurately - then you have to either use the electronic ballot version of EIP or follow the audit preparation steps outlined above. But if you trust the teller committee and that’s good enough for you, or, if you just would rather use paper than machines, then just use EIP-HCPB without the VTN augmentation. But do so at your own risk. Even hand counts are subject to fraud because even teller committees can be compromised.

    * NOTE: There may be statutes in various jurisdictions that do not allow modifying the ballot in any way (like it's some kind of sacred document), and in these cases, skip this augmentation altogether and just go with the HCPB process as normal. Better yet, alter and remove these types of ridiculous statutes. They serve no valid purpose and in fact aid in the disenfranchisement of voters everywhere.

    None of your personal information is being collected, sold or distributed anywhere